Here we present a microengineered soft-robotic in vitro platform developed by integrating a pneumatically regulated novel elastomeric actuator with primary culture of human cells. This system is capable of generating dynamic bending motion akin to the constriction of tubular organs that can exert controlled compressive forces on cultured living cells. Using this platform, we demonstrate cyclic compression of primary human endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and smooth muscle cells to show physiological changes in their morphology due to applied forces. Moreover, we present mechanically actuatable organotypic models to examine the effects of compressive forces on three-dimensional multicellular constructs designed to emulate complex tissues such as solid tumors and vascular networks. Our work provides a preliminary demonstration of how soft-robotics technology can be leveraged for in vitro modeling of complex physiological tissue microenvironment, and may enable the development of new research tools for mechanobiology and related areas.
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2021|
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